Sheetal Menon, the very popular model is now knocking at the doors of Bollywood with her to-be-released debut project, Bhram – An Illusion, directed by Pavan Kaul. Here is the new face talking about her experience as a model and actress.
Sheetal confesses that her experience as a super model has indeed helped her a lot as far as acting is concerned. "My modelling stint has made me more confident and also aware of things around me as far as technicalities are concerned. As a model, one learns to deal with the public, though as an actor, one needs to be more prepared. My stint with the dance form of Bharat Natyam has also helped me tremendously as an actor in the sense that I could get into the right mode of expression as and when my director Pavanji asked me to get into the skin of my character in Bhram, which stars Milind Soman, Dino Morea and Simone Singh, besides me."
What role does Sheetal play in Bhram?
I ask her point blank as she settles down on a sofa on the sets after the director announces the pack up, way past midnight. "Basically Bhram is a film which revolves around relationships in life and is a beautiful film on emotions in life. Ï am playing the once in a life time role of Antara Tyagi. The character that I play in the film is very cynical, intense as well as strong, who hates men because she has been let down in the past by men and feels that men are not reliable. I have to state that it is quite tough for me to play the character that I play in the film, because it is exactly opposite to what I am in real life", opines the lady.
Sheetal has also had a brief stint for three months with Anupam Kher as her tutor at his Acting School. Sheetal states, "When I was new, I had absolutely no clue as to how the film industry works. Luckily my career as a model clicked and I started getting offers to act in films, though before Bhram I really wasn't serious about a career as an actress. It is a very competitive world here in Bollywood and you just cannot afford to go half prepared as an actor. I grabbed the role in Bhram because it is the kind of character that I was longing to do in films. In any case, I do not think I could have asked for a better break as a new comer. Isn't it?"
The actress adds, "It was the ace photographer Atul Kasbekar who spotted me at a party and asked me if I would like to be a part of one of the shoots he was doing for Sahara with Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Bachchan. Since then, I didn't have to look back. Modelling just happened when he suggested that I try my hand at modelling and almost all my major campaigns were with Atul since there was a certain comfort level with him. His modelling agency Matrix asked me to go audition for Bhram since they needed some one who knew acting and also had a modelling background. I went and they handed over to me a five-page dialogue sheet. It took me three and a half hours to do the audition. Though I didn't frankly like what I did, Pavan liked the way I faced the camera and I was signed to play the lead opposite Dino in the film."
Sheetal says that success, as a model, didn't come to her overnight. "At the age of six, I lost my father who was in the army. My mum and I have gone through harrowing days. This has helped me grow stronger in life, though life has been tough for us in the initial stages after dad died and there were even moments when I felt like a loser and thought of giving up everything."
When it comes to exposing for films, Sheetal is pragmatic. "I know one thing about the industry. Nothing can be forced on you if you do not wish to go overboard with desperation. If you are comfortable with your body and know your comfort level, you can decide to what extent you are ready to expose your body. This is only the beginning of my career. I have a long way to go. Though I do not at all believe in planning things in life, I want to give my best shot to whatever role I am assigned and am not desperate to reach the top through hook or crook. I want to do roles, which excite me as an actor. In fact, I am very keen on experimenting with all kinds of roles and be known as a versatile actress instead of being relegated to the sidelines as a sex bomb."